Library Music (Sound Library/Production Music/Soundtrack Music) - 1960s-1980s - A Mirror World of Funk/Jazz/Psych/Pop

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It seems ILM has no real thread for Library Music--which is crazy! To me as a music geek it's proven the biggest, best, deepest "undiscovered" corner of music, endlessly surprising and fun. There's been a slow but steady trickle of commercial reissues over the dozen years I've known of it (and I think stretching back to the 90s) and I've purchased probably every one of them. But in some ways the fact that it's discoverable is thanks to the blog culture of the 2000s to present, with collectors somehow finding these crazy rare records (never sold commercially in their day) and sharing them. I'd love for us to pool our collective knowledge (and links, when possible) on favorites--it seems there is no end to the discoveries.

I can start by sharing a new mix project I've literally been culling for and daydreaming of for over a decade: a 14 "LP" box set of 28 distinctly themed little +/- 25-minute mixes spanning my favorites from 1967-1982. I can't post a full tracklist because it's just too crazy (somewhere around 240 tracks, dozens of artist/labels), but so many of the greats are there: Alessandro Alessandroni, Blue Phantom, Guy Boyer, Braen's Machine, Sandro Brugnolini, James Clarke, Bob Elger, Bernard Estardy, Herbie Flowers, Vincent Gimignani, Il Gruppo, Alan Hawkshaw, Alan Parker, Nick Ingman, Roland Kovac, Keith Mansfield, Alan Moorhouse, Nino Nardini, Janko Nilovic, Jean-Jacques Perrey, Paul Piot, Patric Sciortino, Alan Tew, Peter Thomas, Piero Umiliani, Brian Bennett, Geoff Bastow, John Cameron, Francis Monkman, Jean-Claude Pierric, Paulo Renosto, Klaus Weiss, etc.

Les Bibliothécaires - A Music Library Collection (1967-1982)

https://musicophilia.files.wordpress.com/2018/02/musicophilia_les-bibliothc3a9caires_a-library-music-collection_poster.jpg?w=800&h=1000

https://musicophilia.files.wordpress.com/2018/02/les-bibliothecaires-gif.gif?w=800&zoom=2

[/b]Download it here[/b]

And there's also a 1-hr sampler mix to give a taste:

https://musicophilia.wordpress.com/2018/02/12/library-music-1967-1982/

Hope you'll dig it, and I hope we can use this thread to share our favorites.

Soundslike, Tuesday, 13 February 2018 13:18 (one week ago) Permalink

Also--where do you guys buy Library reissues? These days about the only place I know to find them is Dusty Groove:

https://www.dustygroove.com/category/sound_library

Soundslike, Tuesday, 13 February 2018 13:20 (one week ago) Permalink

this is going to be great.
i dont really go for straight reissues as i dont do vinyl, and there is rarely a cd edition.
but i have picked up quite a few well curated compilations over the years often focussing on the KPM/Sonoton side of things.
currently one of my favourite 'new' music makers is chris joss who makes library music for tv shows that are set in the 70s.

mark e, Tuesday, 13 February 2018 16:02 (one week ago) Permalink

bookmarked

sleeve, Tuesday, 13 February 2018 16:03 (one week ago) Permalink

previous thread where library was discussed (with some links etc) :

Soho Lounge Heat comps, and library music in general

mark e, Tuesday, 13 February 2018 16:07 (one week ago) Permalink

Thanks Mark, didn't find that thread. I grab every full-album reissue I can find, but mostly on CD, too, as I don't have room (or money at often $25+ a record) for LPs. It must be about as niche a thing as it seems, because it seems like half the labels that start proper reissue runs--like Vadim--don't stay in business. . . I'll have to look up Chris Joss, thanks for the recommendation

Soundslike, Wednesday, 14 February 2018 01:50 (one week ago) Permalink

oh shit

my latest library music jam is sven torstenson's "drugs" (sonoton 144)

ziggy the ginhead (rushomancy), Wednesday, 14 February 2018 03:43 (one week ago) Permalink

well, volume 1 and 2 of this set is totally hitting the spot for me today.
been a while since i listened to library as i maxed out on it a couple of years ago, so it rather wonderful to hear some new-to-me stuff.

the only sonoton i have is this comp :

https://www.allmusic.com/album/rare-psych-moogs-and-brass-music-from-the-sonotron-library-1969-1981-mw0002679404

which is pretty damn fun, the highlight being a full on funky brass heavy revision of 'whole lotta love' under the guise of 'high tension'by sven perner.

mark e, Wednesday, 14 February 2018 11:20 (one week ago) Permalink

Library actually is totally well suited to compilations, as only a fairly small fraction play as "albums" front to back. But for some reason I still can't help but want to buy it as full-LPs. But yeah, most of the label-spanning comps are pretty good and selected with some care.

Soundslike, Thursday, 15 February 2018 13:09 (one week ago) Permalink

I tendcto think of 71-74 as the real apex for Library--but I was surprised at how consistently there was great stuff all the way through the early 80s when I finished rhis project--always thought of that era as much patchier. But there was some really great synth stuff.

The last volume 'The Hero' of the box set turned out to be one of my faves--really felt like a complete soundtrack to some awesomely 80s movie.

Soundslike, Thursday, 15 February 2018 13:13 (one week ago) Permalink

there is a _lot_ of good '80s library music, i'm subscribed to a youtube channel that does nothing but '80s library music gems. particularly anybody who's into vaporwave at all will find lots to love there.

(i did notice that "the hero" was longer than any of the other volumes! :) )

ziggy the ginhead (rushomancy), Thursday, 15 February 2018 13:39 (one week ago) Permalink

Seeing "1.3GB" is making me a bit nervous. Can you in fact d/l each volume separately?

Jeff W, Thursday, 15 February 2018 13:46 (one week ago) Permalink

I second Jeff's question

Guayaquil (eephus!), Thursday, 15 February 2018 15:15 (one week ago) Permalink

checking out the sampler now — sounds awesome. thanks as always!

tylerw, Thursday, 15 February 2018 16:15 (one week ago) Permalink

Jeff, Guayaquil, it's currently only available all as one .Zip file. However, each "side" of each volume is its own .mp3 file, 28 total. So you could delete any you didn't like?

Sorry--having 28 or 14 individual downloads just seemed impractical and I kinda wanted it to stand as a "box set" in sum total. I might upload all of them for individual streaming to Mixcloud, but couldn't yet due to time constraints.

However, I'd wager that anyone who liked most of the streaming sampler would like most of the full set:

https://www.mixcloud.com/musicophilia/musicophilia-les-biblioth%C3%A9caires-an-introduction-to-library-music-box-sampler-1967-1982

Soundslike, Thursday, 15 February 2018 16:37 (one week ago) Permalink

i am loving this collection.
the amount of effort you have clearly put into this is off the scale.
thank you.
it has been the soundtrack for last couple of days, and i've still not got to the last one.
really looking forward to that one.

mark e, Thursday, 15 February 2018 16:46 (one week ago) Permalink

thank you!!!!!

kolakube (Ross), Thursday, 15 February 2018 16:48 (one week ago) Permalink

sampler flew right by — will definitely be grabbing the rest.

tylerw, Thursday, 15 February 2018 17:07 (one week ago) Permalink

didn't take too long to download the whole thing

1-4 have been great, looking forward to playing the rest

Brad C., Thursday, 15 February 2018 17:18 (one week ago) Permalink

I always wanted to get into this stuff, but it was so damn intimidating.

The closest I ever got to really getting into it was researching some of the things included on the Dusty Fingers compilations from the late 90s / early 2000s, though those were known to be somewhat unreliable when naming sources.

I remember buying this unofficial reissue of an Alan Tew project and being really into it for a couple months.

he doesn't need to be racist about it though. (Austin), Thursday, 15 February 2018 18:45 (one week ago) Permalink

Total mensch for posting this comp. downloaded it all, cheers

kolakube (Ross), Thursday, 15 February 2018 19:07 (one week ago) Permalink

I listen to a shitload of contemporary library music for my job (which is editing TV promos).

It's hard not to wonder if 30 years on these tracks will ooze as much sonic weirdness as the best vintage 60s/70s stuff.

At the moment it mostly feels incredibly bland and utilitarian but I'm sure a lot of the coveted stuff of the "golden age" felt the same way too.

The practice of trying to exploit yoof trends is alive and well - there are Witch House and Vaporwave library music albums out there.

Of course they get them a bit wrong, which I guess is the charm of a lot of it.

umsworth (emsworth), Friday, 16 February 2018 01:12 (one week ago) Permalink

isn't it the case that most of the "golden age" stuff WAS truly bland and utilitarian, and just a small percentage of it is even heard by people today let alone held in high regard?

A True White Kid that can Jump (Granny Dainger), Friday, 16 February 2018 01:17 (one week ago) Permalink

i daresay you're right

there's a lot of goopy orchestral and goofy brass band shit in the archives which i don't think people are clamoring for

i guess the best old tracks either distil a sound really really well (to the point where they evoke said sound more succinctly than the original inspiration)

...or do so interestingly badly, with rewarding consequences?

just interesting to me how the passage of time and an attentive audience conspire to reveal something extra in this music that must have been harder to discern at the time

umsworth (emsworth), Friday, 16 February 2018 01:28 (one week ago) Permalink

man, i would love to hear what a Witch House or a Vaporwave library music record would sound like.

but yeah, there's a lot of library music but at the same time most of the best-known stuff is by the same people. most library music is not known, not good, and not interesting!

ziggy the ginhead (rushomancy), Friday, 16 February 2018 01:46 (one week ago) Permalink

Austin--hope this set helps break through the intimidation factor. It's a big set, but honestly pretty distilled down to the remarkable stuff...

Mark, Tyler--thank you for diving in!

Soundslike, Friday, 16 February 2018 12:48 (one week ago) Permalink

Ziggy, Umsworth, Granny, agreed there's a huge bulk of Library stuff that doesn't transcend its utilitarian function--lots of bizzarely chipper and incredibly white stuff that was surely lame even at the time.

But at least between the late 60s and early 80s, a ton of genuinely unique and good (sometimes great) stuff was made, and I marvel at that fact and still don't really understand what allowed/pushed it to happen, given I'm sure the lame bulk still paid the bills. And while a big part of the charm is probably the accidental result of older/European classically-trained jazz musicians not-quite-correctly invoking youth/American trends, and the novelty that creates for us at a remove of time--I don't think that fully explains it.

I think there were a lot of intentional innovations that remain thrilling for entirely non-ironic, non-context-dependent reasons. Especially in the realm of making combinations that feel like great pop music, but were rarely actually made in pop music, i.e. tight beats and bouncing basslines with mid-sized string/orchestral sections in a very intertwined way--heard particularly in pop music so early mainly in like Gainsbourg or maybe some Philly soul, but not common in actual pop music till the mid/late-70s. Or foregrounding the harpsichord or the organ and letting gutar take an auxiliary role. And a lot of production techniques that feel unique, or at least when removed from a musique concrete or psychedelic rock and applied to instrumental light funk or what have you. All to say--I think there's more than a small fraction of the music that is really intrinsically good and fun. The fact that it exists sort of separately from mainstream music we love, and that it's relatively unknown, adds to the mystique for sure but isn't why it's enjoyable.

Tiny annecdotal evidence, sure, but I've already had a good number of "normal" (aka not freak music nerds like us on ILM) hear this set and really like it--and I tend to trust them not to have as many meta-critical factors at play as us...

Soundslike, Friday, 16 February 2018 13:08 (one week ago) Permalink

What you say is true enough, but I do think it's natural to want to make good music, to be _creative_, no matter what context you're making music in. Look at the fanbase for song poems today. You know, this is something that was, bluntly, a scam, something that existed solely to rip people off, something done under the most assembly line circumstances imaginable, but Rodd Keith couldn't help himself. Humans will always find a way to create.

ziggy the ginhead (rushomancy), Friday, 16 February 2018 13:37 (one week ago) Permalink

fucking psyched to see this thread, soundslike, if it had even occurred to me to think '1981 box compiler should do library box y/n' i would have answered 'hell yes make it happen'!

I have been dabbling in library music for about 3 years but coming more from the film score angle so I'm always looking for albums of horror or suspense cues esp from the 70s. Some favorites I've come across have been SG horror albums by Paul Lewis and others called 'Homage to Horror' and 'Drama and Horror', on Bruton Music 'Great Mysteries of the World' by Alan Hawkshaw, and on De Wolfe 'Strange Locations' which does not tell you it is actually the scores to Witchfinder General on the A side and Curse of the Crimson Cult on the B side! Some other Bruton and De Wolfe ones I can't remember right now.

Forest of Evil volumes 1 and 2 also good on a post-Goblin kind of tip.

If I may point to an existing blog comp which blew my away, the Flash Strap blog (highly skilled exotica specialist) did a box called Bibliotheque Exotique in five volumes which has my highest possible recommendation. Focusing on library exotica obv.

Off to download your new thing!

Winter. Dickens. Yes. (Jon not Jon), Friday, 16 February 2018 15:45 (one week ago) Permalink

Many thanks for this thread! I'm digging the 1-hr sampler at work today. I'm not familiar enough with this genre to comment extensively, so I'm mostly going to lurk and listen.

But just wanted to say that, as a bass player myself, "bouncing basslines" otm. There is some very nifty, propulsive bass work in many of these.

Supporters Fear Dan's Post Will Lack The Edge They Love (Dan Peterson), Friday, 16 February 2018 18:07 (one week ago) Permalink

best ILM thread for me in a very long time.
i thought the whole library thing was now regarded as passe,
whereas i think its still a massively undiscovered resource,
hence why us shallow divers need a curator.
soundslike, with this collection you have become that person.
i have listened to most of the set, and its the best overview of the genre i have.
simple as that.
as i agree, whole albums will be filled with generic boring stuff, hence the need to have a filter.

mark e, Friday, 16 February 2018 19:07 (one week ago) Permalink

OK I have downloaded the whole thing and it's whoa

Guayaquil (eephus!), Sunday, 18 February 2018 17:20 (six days ago) Permalink

For me the great library music moment will always be Monty Python and the Holy Grail, where Neil Innes's initial soundtrack was replaced by DeWolfe library music -- and it's so brilliantly done, I can't think of any of those cuts as being anything but actual soundtrack creations for the movie, even when they're not.

Ned Raggett, Sunday, 18 February 2018 17:27 (six days ago) Permalink

For me the great library music moment will always be Monty Python and the Holy Grail, where Neil Innes's initial soundtrack was replaced by DeWolfe library music

huh !!?
so if i dig out my never played soundtrack cd from the archive it will be all library music ?

(i was EMI mailing list for a while, and they sent me 2 complete sets of the full MP albums, 2 sets of skinny cd-rs, and i still never played the bloody things! hence i totally understood guy hands quote re shoving money in envelopes would have been cheaper and more beneficial)

mark e, Sunday, 18 February 2018 17:59 (six days ago) Permalink

The Holy Grail album isn't a traditional soundtrack -- it's a (very funny) meta-riff on seeing the movie in a theater with all sorts of things done specifically and solely for that, interpersed with bits from the film.

Ned Raggett, Sunday, 18 February 2018 18:01 (six days ago) Permalink

time to head to the archive then.

mark e, Sunday, 18 February 2018 18:09 (six days ago) Permalink

is there actually an entire unreleased neil innes soundtrack for "holy grail"? i thought he just did a couple songs for it...

ziggy the ginhead (rushomancy), Sunday, 18 February 2018 18:26 (six days ago) Permalink

It may not be a full soundtrack as such, but as I remember it it was a combination of Innes doing a variety of medieval-ish compositions -- think his "Brave Sir Robin" song as the surviving example but also just soundtrack music in general -- as well as a notably grimy and 'real' sound design IIRC. Whatever it exactly was, they switched to the DeWolfe approach and it was genius.

Ned Raggett, Sunday, 18 February 2018 21:29 (six days ago) Permalink

Best thread

kolakube (Ross), Sunday, 18 February 2018 21:30 (six days ago) Permalink

Library music is a regular feature on Evan Crankshaw's great Explorers Room wfmu digital radio show, and coincidentally with this thread's reappearance, this week's program was a three-hour exploration of the "Chappell Mood Music Library"... Show is archived with playlist and comments

http://wfmu.org/playlists/shows/77442

jaywbabcock, Monday, 19 February 2018 02:50 (five days ago) Permalink

Yeah Evan crankshaw is the guy behind the Flash Strap blog where you can download the stupendous Bibliotheque Exotique library music mix/virtual box.

Lockhorn. Lockhorn breed-uh (Jon not Jon), Monday, 19 February 2018 12:09 (five days ago) Permalink

Mr. Crankshaw's blog generally and the 'Biblio Exotique' series specifically look fantastic! Thanks for the recommendation!

Some overlap, but not a lot, between his series and my 'Les Bibliothecaires' series--between the two is a pretty good intro to Library!

Soundslike, Monday, 19 February 2018 19:32 (five days ago) Permalink

Library Records (a slow moving thread)

we had this thread but this new one is pretty cool. I like Don Voegeli. I bought a Piero Umiliani box but the records were warped, so I returned it, and that's been my experience with library records, mostly. I guess I've heard a handful of boring ones. The good ones are expensive.

bamcquern, Monday, 19 February 2018 20:18 (five days ago) Permalink

Soundslike I have listened to three 'sides' of your box so far (starting with Mystery naturally) -- GREAT work

Lockhorn. Lockhorn breed-uh (Jon not Jon), Monday, 19 February 2018 21:29 (five days ago) Permalink

Thanks, Jon! I really enjoyed the "sides" approach--making lots of 25-min-ish mixes meant themes could be really honed and varied, and hopefully makes jumping in easier.

Soundslike, Tuesday, 20 February 2018 13:06 (four days ago) Permalink

I listen to a shitload of contemporary library music for my job (which is editing TV promos).

It's hard not to wonder if 30 years on these tracks will ooze as much sonic weirdness as the best vintage 60s/70s stuff.

At the moment it mostly feels incredibly bland and utilitarian but I'm sure a lot of the coveted stuff of the "golden age" felt the same way too.

as a side thing i used to edit videos and have done a number for corporate/non-profit promos and finding the music was always a huge challenge for me. bg music has to have an element of the ambient to it - it has to slip by unnoticed. i got to know stock & royalty-free music websites very well. tbh most of the rock tracks reminded me either of U2 (epic stadium delayed guitar) or Colplay (epic stadium but w piano arpeggios). at one point i tried writing bg music thinking, oh, this will be easy. it's not! the music called too much attention to itself, or it gave the overlying video and weird and morose quality. it is a different skillset to compose for stock music vs. other music.

i feel the same way about the blandness of modern stock music but also the sheer volume of it all, it is too much to trawl through for one human. thousands of "morning sunrise" or "motivational" cues to listen to, likely entire genres of stock music people just never dig into because they are niche and producers want a safer choice. you can't really blame them, why spend a week searching for that diamond in the rough when you can find a soundtrack in an hour of searching (sometimes, budget-wise, this is a necessity). it makes sense that it took 30-40 years of trawling through the soupy stuff to find the gems.

Hazy Maze Cave (Adam Bruneau), Tuesday, 20 February 2018 13:35 (four days ago) Permalink

a little off track but one of my friends posted a terrible "uncut" cover story from last year of something like "the 101 weirdest albums ever!" i have a great love for hacky listicles, they're one of my guilty pleasures, but this one was awful because it was the exact same article you would've seen 15 years ago but with a lil b record thrown in there.

the past changes on us, i guess the less romantic way to say it is that our understanding of the past, of all aspects of it, continually changes and evolves, and the internet specifically has accelerated that, culturally speaking, by what seems like an order of magnitude. it wasn't really feasible to know or be into library music before the internet because you need some sort of mass collective human data processing ability, the ability to not just access but listen to hundreds of records with identical covers and point out which ones are of interest.

my unending obsession with '70s music isn't properly nostalgia (for a decade that ended when i was three), if it's nostalgia at all it's nostalgia for an age that never existed, but it's more excavation, "digging" if you will, to find the hidden and unacknowledged aspects of who we were and who we are. more than a simple matter of aesthetic preference, "forest of evil vol. 1" is more experientially interesting to me than "anthony's song". not that i don't like "anthony's song".

ziggy the ginhead (rushomancy), Tuesday, 20 February 2018 14:40 (four days ago) Permalink

It's an interesting distinction, between nostalgia and "digging". I'm also largely obsessed with music of the 70s, and I'd make a similar case that this isn't nostalgia--partly on the basis that I was born in 1980, but more significantly that it grew organically from constant (real-life and internet) discovery of the music itself often with little to no interest in the 70s more broadly (fashion, architecture, pop culture in particular being of little to negative interest for me). In other words, through "digging" the music is experienced as directly, or maybe more directly with less coloring by context (for better and worse) than even current music. I feel like for music obsessives, "new-to-me" tends to be more important than "actually new"; a nostalgia-based or retro-mania based obsession would be driven by other motivations and would manifest itself more obviously (i.e. dressing like your favorite antique subculture, a narrowing rather than broadening of interests).

It's why I've been happy that I named my mix blog as generically as "Musicphilia," because it biases no constraints--nothing stops me from making funk series, post-punk boxes, mixes of actually-new music, Library sets, and weird collage pieces. That reflects the way we listen. I always just figured, why ahould we think there's something so special about just one moment--the present--when thanks to recorded sound a century of music remains "present" and if it wasn't ephemeral it can still move and engage us.

Library exists in a strange limbo, because even the weirdest stuff still feels of-a-time that clearly isn't our own, but aside from a few tunes that became theme songs almost none of it can be remembered nostalgically from first-time experience. The fact that it tends to be off someone's radar and then discovered as a huge mass of sound all at once (relatively speaking) only amplifies the odd blend of clearly-past but totally-new. In the end I think it, like all music found through agnostic, eclectic digging, stands on its own merit musically, and everything else about it is just interesting but secondary.

Soundslike, Wednesday, 21 February 2018 13:05 (three days ago) Permalink

yeah i think that's an important point, so much of nostalgia is a kind of gestalt thing, you like the music because it reminds you of Your Past in its entirety. when i listen to music from the '70s i dissociate it from that context and recontextualize it in my own life. a lot of the hatred of disco, for instance, was a hatred of disco culture. i don't hate disco culture, but i do have a rather aggressive disinterest in its trappings - long nights, casual sex, cocaine, even _dancing_, these things are not really part of my life and have not ever been, and i didn't really start enjoying disco until i stopped, in my mind, associating the music with those things. i would argue that if there is any music that approximates "timeless" it's music that can reveal meanings in multiple cultural contexts across long periods of time, and that music's success in its original cultural context is not necessarily a good determinant of that. (but probably it will eventually all lose its meaning.)

ziggy the ginhead (rushomancy), Wednesday, 21 February 2018 14:30 (three days ago) Permalink

this is the most library music thing i've heard this morning. utterly cheezy brass fanfare for a minute and then it goes into an utterly crazy guitar freakout. and then back to the brass fanfare as if that was just a normal, ordinary part of the song.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3h_K2AIjss

ziggy the ginhead (rushomancy), Friday, 23 February 2018 14:32 (yesterday) Permalink


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